Lori Openden

Casting Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour-and-fifteen-minute interview, Lori Openden discusses how she got her start in the industry working for a television agent at William Morris. She shares how she got hired as a secretary on Barney Miller and started her career in casting with the show's casting director, Beth Uffner. She describes casting the Barney Miller spin-off Fish, becoming a casting director at MTM, and recalls her work casting The Betty White Show, Rhoda, The White Shadow, and Hill Street Blues. She tells of becoming an independent casting director and casting TV movies and Cheers (starting in season three) and becoming a casting executive at NBC, where she was involved in casting Seinfeld, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mad About You, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, L.A. Law, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ER, Freaks and Geeks, and The West Wing. Openden details becoming a casting consultant and then executive at UPN, where she oversaw casting on several shows, including Everybody Hates Chris and Veronica Mars. She then recounts becoming head of casting at the CW, where she oversaw the casting on Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, Black Lightning, Riverdale, Jane the Virgin, Dynasty, and Charmed, among others. She describes the CW's programming strategy, how she learned the craft of casting, offers advice to aspiring actors and casting directors, and reflects on her experiences as head of casting at three different networks (NBC, UPN, and the CW). Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on December 3, 2019 in North Hollywood, CA.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"We like to watch attractive people. I don’t ever apologize for that. People say to me, 'there's a CW type - attractive.' I always say, 'attractive and talented.' Because we don’t settle."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Lori Openden on learning about casting from Danny Arnold on Barney Miller
00:14
Lori Openden on Nicholas Colasanto passing away and casting Woody Harrelson on Cheers
00:43
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Friends
05:55
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Gossip Girl
01:22
Lori Openden on Gina Rodriguez winning the CW's first Golden Globe for Jane the Virgin
01:15
Lori Openden on advice for people who want to go into casting - learn the business side
00:35
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on her father's death and how that impacted her life; on her favorite TV shows growing up and her college years at Cal State Northridge
On working for a television agent at William Morris after college; on getting hired as a secretary on Barnery Miller and getting interested in casting; on casting Barnery Miller and its spin-off, Fish
On leaving Barnery Miller and casting the MTM shows The Betty White Show, Rhoda, The White Shadow, and Hill Street Blues
On becoming an independent casting director and casting TV movies; on casting Cheers - joining in season three; on her casting duties at NBC and her involvement in casting Saved by the Bell
On her involvement with casting Seinfeld, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mad About You, Frasier, and Friends

Chapter 2

On her involvement in casting Will & Grace, L.A. Law, Law & Order, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
On her involvement in casting ER, Freaks and Geeks, and The West Wing
On becoming an independent casting director; on becoming a casting consultant and then executive at UPN; on UPN shows she cast, including Everybody Hates Chris and Veronica Mars
On the programming strategy at UPN and the merger of UPN and the WB to form the CW; on a typical day for her as head of casting at the CW; on casting the CW shows Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, Black Lightning, Riverdale, Jane the Virgin, Dynasty, and Charmed

Chapter 3

On casting the CW shows All American, Nancy Drew, and In the Dark
On the success of CW shows on digital platforms and how the industry has changed since she started in broadcast TV; on how the abundance of digital platforms has impacted casting; on advice to aspiring actors; on her mentors
On advice for people who want to go into casting; on the casting field being predominately women; on her proudest career achievement; on how she would like to be remembered
Shows

8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter

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Lori Openden on being the casting director on 8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter
01:44

All American

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Lori Openden on casting the CW show All American
02:43

Arrow

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Lori Openden on casting Stephen Amell on Arrow
00:39

Barney Miller

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Lori Openden on getting hired as a secretary on Barnery Miller and getting interested in casting
03:01
Lori Openden on the casting process on Barnery Miller
05:19
Lori Openden on when she left Barnery Miller and began working for MTM - casting The Betty White Show and Rhoda
01:21

Batwoman

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Lori Openden on casting Ruby Rose on Batwoman
00:42

Bette

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Lori Openden on being the casting director on the sitcom Bette
00:44

Betty White Show, The (1977-78)

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Lori Openden on when she left Barnery Miller and began working for MTM - casting The Betty White Show and Rhoda
01:21

Black Lightning

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Lori Openden on casting Black Lightning
00:47

Charmed

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Lori Openden on casting the CW reboot of Charmed
01:01

Cheers

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Lori Openden on casting Cheers, starting in season three of the series
05:34

Dynasty

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Lori Openden on casting the CW reboot of Dynasty
00:41

ER

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting ER
05:05

Everybody Hates Chris

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Everybody Hates Chris
00:42

First Monday

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Lori Openden on being the casting director on the drama First Monday
00:20

Fish

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Lori Openden on casting the Barnery Miller spin-off, FIsh
01:17

Flash, The (2014)

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Lori Openden on casting Grant Gustin on The Flash
00:26

Frasier

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Frasier
03:21

Freaks and Geeks

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Freaks and Geeks
02:09

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
02:16

Friends

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Friends
05:55

Gossip Girl

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Gossip Girl
01:22

Hill Street Blues

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Lori Openden on casting Hill Street Blues and the impact the show had on TV dramas
04:17
Lori Openden on the challenges of casting Hill Street Blues and what the day-to-day process was like
04:53

In the Dark

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Lori Openden on casting the CW show In the Dark
00:35

Jane the Virgin

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Lori Openden on casting Jane the Virgin
03:07

L.A. Law

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting L.A. Law
02:07

Law & Order

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Lori Openden on her (non) involvement in casting the pilot of Law & Order and adding talent to the show over the years
02:11

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
00:45

Mad About You

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Mad About You
00:28

Nancy Drew

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Lori Openden on casting the CW show Nancy Drew
00:42

Rhoda

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Lori Openden on when she left Barnery Miller and began working for MTM - casting The Betty White Show and Rhoda
01:21

Riverdale

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Lori Openden on casting the young stars on Riverdale
01:32
Lori Openden on casting the parents on Riverdale
01:32

Saved by the Bell

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Lori Openden on the success of Saved by the Bell
00:41

Seinfeld

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Lori Openden on casting Seinfeld
04:00

Supergirl

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Lori Openden on Supergirl moving from CBS to the CW
00:28

Vampire Diaries, The

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Vampire Diaries
01:32

Veronica Mars

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Kristen Bell on Veronica Mars
02:20

West Wing, The

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The West Wing
03:11

White Shadow, The

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Lori Openden on casting The White Shadow
03:53

Will & Grace

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting the main cast and guest stars on Will & Grace
05:02
Topics

Advice

View Topic
Lori Openden on her advice for aspiring actors
00:34
Lori Openden on advice for people who want to go into casting - learn the business side
00:35

First Big Break

View Topic
Lori Openden on getting hired as a secretary on Barnery Miller and getting interested in casting
03:01

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Lori Openden on the impact of Will & Grace on American culture
00:32
Lori Openden on how diversity in casting has changed since she started in the industry
01:53
Lori Openden on the casting field being predominately women
01:12

LGBTQ

View Topic
Lori Openden on the impact of Will & Grace on American culture
00:32
Lori Openden on how diversity in casting has changed since she started in the industry
01:53

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Lori Openden on getting hired as a secretary on Barnery Miller and getting interested in casting
03:01

Representation on Television

View Topic
Lori Openden on the impact of Will & Grace on American culture
00:32
Lori Openden on how diversity in casting has changed since she started in the industry
01:53
Lori Openden on the casting field being predominately women
01:12

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Lori Openden on the technological innovations over the years that now allow her to approve all guest stars on CW shows
02:55
Lori Openden on how the abundance of digital platforms has impacted casting
00:38

Television Industry

View Topic
Lori Openden on the success of CW shows on digital platforms and how the industry has changed since she started in broadcast TV
00:49
Lori Openden on her advice for aspiring actors
00:34
Lori Openden on her mentors
00:58
Lori Openden on advice for people who want to go into casting - learn the business side
00:35
Lori Openden on paying attention to demographics at the CW
00:31

Women

View Topic
Lori Openden on the casting field being predominately women
01:12
Professions

Casting Director

View Profession
Lori Openden on how she learned to become critical of performances from her early experiences of casting Barney Miller, and on how she would find talent
03:04
Lori Openden on what she likes about casting
00:38
Lori Openden on changes in the casting industry over the years from the time she worked on Hill Street Blues to current day
03:12
Lori Openden on the audition process and when the network typically weighs in
01:12
Lori Openden on what she looked at when hiring casting executives and her team at NBC
01:19
Lori Openden on differences between being a casting director and a network casting executive
03:02
Lori Openden on chemistry and lack of chemistry between actors and how it can help or hurt a show
02:30
Lori Openden on the process of auditioning kids
01:14
Lori Openden on the hardest type of role to cast - leading men
00:59
Lori Openden on the differences between a character actor versus leading man
01:03

Executives

View Profession
Lori Openden on differences between being a casting director and a network casting executive
03:02
Lori Openden on how involved NBC executives were with casting decisions when she was at the network, and on the then-current involvement of networks in casting
02:08
Lori Openden on not visiting sets much as a casting executive at NBC
01:09
Lori Openden on becoming a casting consultant and then executive at UPN
03:12
Lori Openden on her casting strategy at the CW
01:37
Lori Openden on a typical day for her as head of casting for the CW
01:15

Talent Professionals

View Profession
Lori Openden on how she learned to become critical of performances from her early experiences of casting Barney Miller, and on how she would find talent
03:04
Lori Openden on what she likes about casting
00:38
Lori Openden on changes in the casting industry over the years from the time she worked on Hill Street Blues to current day
03:12
Lori Openden on the audition process and when the network typically weighs in
01:12
Lori Openden on what she looked at when hiring casting executives and her team at NBC
01:19
Lori Openden on differences between being a casting director and a network casting executive
03:02
Lori Openden on chemistry and lack of chemistry between actors and how it can help or hurt a show
02:30
Lori Openden on the process of auditioning kids
01:14
Lori Openden on the hardest type of role to cast - leading men
00:59
Lori Openden on the differences between a character actor versus leading man
01:03

Television Executive

View Profession
Lori Openden on differences between being a casting director and a network casting executive
03:02
Lori Openden on how involved NBC executives were with casting decisions when she was at the network, and on the then-current involvement of networks in casting
02:08
Lori Openden on not visiting sets much as a casting executive at NBC
01:09
Lori Openden on becoming a casting consultant and then executive at UPN
03:12
Lori Openden on her casting strategy at the CW
01:37
Lori Openden on a typical day for her as head of casting for the CW
01:15
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Lori Openden on getting hired as a secretary on Barnery Miller and getting hired in casting
08:20
Lori Openden on casting the Barnery Miller spin-off, FIsh
01:17
Lori Openden on casting Cheers, starting in season three of the series
05:34
Lori Openden on the success of Saved by the Bell
00:41
Lori Openden on casting Seinfeld
04:00
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
02:16
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Mad About You
00:28
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Frasier
03:20
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Friends
05:55
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting the main cast and guest stars on Will & Grace
05:02
Lori Openden on being the casting director on the sitcom Bette
00:44
Lori Openden on being the casting director on 8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter
01:46
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Everybody Hates Chris
00:42

Drama Series

View Genre
Lori Openden on casting The White Shadow
03:56
Lori Openden on casting Hill Street Blues
09:10
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
00:45
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Freaks and Geeks
02:10
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The West Wing
03:11
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Kristen Bell on Veronica Mars
02:19
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Gossip Girl
01:22
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Vampire Diaries
01:32
Lori Openden on casting Stephen Amell on Arrow
00:39
Lori Openden on casting Grant Gustin on The Flash
00:26
Lori Openden on casting Ruby Rose on Batwoman
00:42
Lori Openden on Supergirl moving from CBS to the CW
00:28
Lori Openden on casting Black Lightning
00:47
Lori Openden on casting Riverdale
03:04
Lori Openden on casting Jane the Virgin
03:06
Lori Openden on casting the CW reboot of Dynasty
00:41
Lori Openden on casting the CW reboot of Charmed
01:42
Lori Openden on casting the CW show All American
02:43
Lori Openden on casting the CW show Nancy Drew
00:42
Lori Openden on casting the CW show In the Dark
00:35

Legal Dramas

View Genre
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting L.A. Law
02:07
Lori Openden on her (non) involvement in casting the pilot of Law & Order and adding talent to the show over the years
02:11
Lori Openden on being the casting director on the drama First Monday
00:20

Medical Dramas

View Genre
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting ER
05:05
People

Jason Alexander

View Interview Page
Lori Openden on casting Seinfeld
00:55

Kirstie Alley

View Person Page
Lori Openden on Shelley Long's departure from Cheers and Kirstie Alley joining the show
00:33

Stephen Amell

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Lori Openden on casting Stephen Amell on Arrow
00:39

Jennifer Aniston

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Jennifer Aniston on Friends
01:33
Lori Openden on Jennifer Aniston playing "Rachel" instead of "Monica" on Friends
00:17
Lori Openden on why she believed Jennifer Aniston was meant to be a star
01:22

Danny Arnold

View Person Page
Lori Openden on learning about casting from Danny Arnold on Barney Miller
00:14
Lori Openden on Danny Arnold's input on casting Barney Miller
00:34

Justin Baldoni

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Lori Openden on casting Justin Baldoni on Jane the Virgin
00:27

Kristen Bell

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Kristen Bell on Veronica Mars
01:07

Steven Bochco

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting L.A. Law with Steven Bochco
02:07

James Burrows

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Lori Openden on James Burrows taking the cast of Friends to Las Vegas before the show aired
00:30

Thomas Carter

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Lori Openden on casting The White Shadow, and on many of the actors learning to direct on the show, including Timothy Van Patten, Thomas Carter, and Kevin Hooks
01:37

George Clooney

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting George Clooney in his breakout role on ER
02:25

Enrico Colantoni

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Lori Openden on Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni on Veronica Mars
00:34

Nicholas Colasanto

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Lori Openden on Nicholas Colasanto passing away and casting Woody Harrelson on Cheers
00:43

Courteney Cox

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Lori Openden on Courteney Cox joining the cast of Friends
00:18

Taye Diggs

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Lori Openden on casting Taye Diggs on the CW show All American
00:28

Anthony Edwards

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Anthony Edwards on ER
00:12

Daniel Ezra

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Lori Openden on casting Daniel Ezra on the CW show All American
00:28

James Garner

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Lori Openden on John Ritter's death and bringing James Garner on to 8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter
00:38

Kelsey Grammer

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Frasier
00:33

Grant Gustin

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Lori Openden on casting Grant Gustin on The Flash
00:26

Charles Haid

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Lori Openden on casting Charles Haid on Hill Street Blues
00:28

Mariska Hargitay

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order
00:44

Woody Harrelson

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Lori Openden on Nicholas Colasanto passing away and casting Woody Harrelson on Cheers
00:43

Sean Hayes

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Sean Hayes on Will & Grace
00:51

Kevin Hooks

View Person Page
Lori Openden on casting The White Shadow, and on many of the actors learning to direct on the show, including Timothy Van Patten, Thomas Carter, and Kevin Hooks
01:37

Peter Horton

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Lori Openden on casting Peter Horton as a guest star The White Shadow
00:25

Quincy Jones

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
01:50

Lisa Kudrow

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Lori Openden on Lisa Kudrow being in the original cast of Frasier
00:59
Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Lisa Kudrow on Friends
00:09

Jane Leeves

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Lori Openden on Jane Leeves getting cast on Frasier
00:21

Hal Linden

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Lori Openden on Hal Linden's performance on Barney Miller
00:13

Warren Littlefield

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Lori Openden on working with Warren Littlefield and Brandon Tartikoff at NBC
01:24

Shelley Long

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Lori Openden on Shelley Long's departure from Cheers and Kirstie Alley joining the show
00:33

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Lori Openden on casting Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld
00:52

Rick Ludwin

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Lori Openden on Rick Ludwin's enthusiasm for Seinfeld
00:22

Julianna Margulies

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Julianna Marguiles on ER
00:27

Eric McCormack

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Erick McCormack on Will & Grace
00:54

Christopher Meloni

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Christopher Meloni on Law & Order
00:44

Debra Messing

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Debra Messing on Will & Grace
01:11

Bette Midler

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Lori Openden on being the casting director on the sitcom Bette
00:44

Shelley Morrison

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Shelley Morrison on Will & Grace
00:39

Megan Mullally

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Megan Mullally on Will & Grace
00:12

Bruce Paltrow

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Lori Openden on Bruce Paltrow giving several of the actors on The White Shadow the opportunity to direct
01:09
Lori Openden on working with Bruce Paltrow on casting The White Shadow
01:16

Timothy Van Patten

View Interview Page
Lori Openden on casting The White Shadow, and on many of the actors learning to direct on the show, including Timothy Van Patten, Thomas Carter, and Kevin Hooks
01:37

Luke Perry

View Person Page
Lori Openden on casting the parents on Riverdale
00:32

Matthew Perry

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Matthew Perry on Friends
00:20

David Hyde Pierce

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Lori Openden on David Hyde Pierce getting cast on Frasier
00:27

Michael Richards

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Lori Openden on casting Michael Richards on Seinfeld
00:54

John Ritter

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Lori Openden on being the casting director on 8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter, and on John Ritter's sudden death
01:04

Gina Rodriguez

View Person Page
Lori Openden on casting Gina Rodriguez on Jane the Virgin
00:59
Lori Openden on Gina Rodriguez winning the CW's first Golden Globe for Jane the Virgin
01:15

Ruby Rose

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Lori Openden on casting Ruby Rose on Batwoman
01:09

Eriq La Salle

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Eriq La Salle on ER
01:16

David Schwimmer

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting David Schwimmer on Friends
00:10

Jerry Seinfeld

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Lori Openden on casting Seinfeld
00:55

Martin Sheen

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Martin Sheen on The West Wing
00:33

Will Smith

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
01:50

Jimmy Smits

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Lori Openden on her involvement in casting Jimmy Smits on L.A. Law
00:22

Aaron Sorkin

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Lori Openden on working with Aaron Sorkin on The West Wing
00:32

Brandon Tartikoff

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Lori Openden on working with Warren Littlefield and Brandon Tartikoff at NBC
00:24
Lori Openden on casting Michael Richards on Seinfeld
00:54

Grant Tinker

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Lori Openden on casting Bruce Weitz on Hill Street Blues
00:57

Beth Uffner

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Lori Openden on working with and learning from casting director Beth Uffner on Barney Miller
01:12

Bruce Weitz

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Lori Openden on casting Bruce Weitz on Hill Street Blues
00:57

Cress Williams

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Lori Openden on casting Black Lightning
00:47

All Interviews

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